CAMEROON 1-4 BRAZIL
MONDAY 23RD JUNE – BRASILIA
It took a little while for Brazil to get going this World Cup. In their opening Group A clashes with Croatia and Mexico, the host nation’s team looked a little flat and played without their usual swagger – however, against Cameroon, they showed flashes of exactly what they can do to lift their fans as they progress into a Round of 16 clash with Group B runners-up Chile.
Thousands flocked to the Estadio Nacional de Brasilia to see the host team in their final group game, and they saw their team get off to a good start when the forged a few half chances before 22 year old sensation Neymar scored less than 20 minutes in to put his team ahead and make some World Cup history for his nation. Luis Gustavo broke up the play and carried the ball down the left to play a ball in for Neymar to finish superbly, with the young Barcelona forwards goal being the 100th goal of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and Brazil’s 100th World Cup goal. To top it off, it was his 3rd of the competition and goal number 34 for Neymar in a Brazil shirt.
Only a couple of minutes later, it could have been goal number 35, had it not been for Charles Itandje parrying Neymar’s well-struck volley over the bar for a Brazil. It was down the opposite end, however, that set pieces were doing the damage. Cameroon’s centre half Joel Matip hit the bar off a corner for the African nation, and stayed up that end of the pitch long enough for Nyom to square a ball across the box to the FC Schalke 04 defender so he could tap in to the Brazil net for his first international goal. It was poor defending from Brazil, but fortunately for them, they’ve had enough quality when it counts up the other end of the pitch to get the job done so far in this tournament – and today was no different.
Ten minutes before the break, Neymar had struck again as Cameroon found themselves way too open at the back. Brazil adapted their game to punish Cameroon’s weakness in this area, and they were punished when Neymar picked up the ball in space, ran at the defenders and sent Itandje the wrong way to put his side ahead for the second time in the match.
By the second half, you’d have thought Cameroon would have learned their lesson and shored up at the back somewhat, but they still struggled to shut out the ‘Seleção’ and they were punished by Fred with a header from point-blank range. The experienced Brazilian forward has come under fire this tournament, but manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has stood by him and his faith was duly rewarded in this game when the striker gave his side a more comfortable lead.
That lead only increased when second-half substitute Fernandinho combined well with Fred and Oscar some great one-touch play that sent the Manchester City midfielder through on goal so he could finish well past Itandje and settle any fears of a Brazil vs. Holland clash in the Round of 16, aiding the Brazil goal difference enough to ensure they finished ahead of eventually Group A runners-up Mexico.
They’ve done it the hard-way at times this tournament, but Brazil have progressed and will be eager to improve in the knockout rounds. Meanwhile, it’s a long journey home for Cameroon who will have to look to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations for some glory on the international stage after a disappointing showing at this World Cup.
CAMEROON: Itandje, Nkoulou, Nguemo, Moukandjo (Salli 58), Aboubakar (Webo 72), Bedimo, Choupo Moting (Makoun 81), Mbia, Enoh, Matip, Nyom.
GOALS: Matip 26.
BOOKINGS: Enoh 11, Salli 75, Mbia 80.
BRAZIL: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho (Fernandinho 46), Oscar, Luiz Gustavo, Fred, Neymar (Willian 71), Hulk (Ramires 63).
GOALS: Neymar 17 & 34, Fred 49, Fernandinho 84.
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